Cracked: Roguelike [encrypted] Launching Next Weekend

If you want everything explained to you in a game, [encrypted] [official site] is probably not for you. Roguelikes have traditionally been a genre rife with curiosity and uncertainty, but that’s faded somewhat in modern roguelikes and roguelikelikes. [encrypted] won’t even let you read its text unless you do a little code-cracking, yet is intended to be intuitive for the curious.

It’ll launch on Saturday, May 30th, developer Niall Moody announced today. Come have a look.

As it’s a somewhat cryptic game, I can’t intuit too much without playing myself, and shall entrust you to the gentle words of Moody:

“The game offers no tutorials or hand-holding of any kind, instead trusting the player to be able to figure it out on their own. Indeed, the game’s mechanics are designed to be easily intuited by an attentive player.

“For those players who can crack the encryption, the game provides hooks so that they can plug in their own decryption code and have the text rendered in English as they play.”

Sounds great, that. I will definitely not have a crack at the encryption myself, but am delighted by the idea of it. The game has procedural audio too, reacting to what’s happening.

You can download an old build from August for free over here.

[encrypted] will be released on Windows and Mac through Itch priced at $5 (£3.20-ish). Paying at least $10 would also get you a zine about methods of text encryption and ways to crack them. Moody plans to release it during the event Feral Vector next weekend, where he’s speaking and where Graham will be in attendance (and where I spoke last year). Anyway, look at this:


  1. Artist says:

    So the brutal opposite of todays handholding for utter stupids in mostt other games…. “Please press w,a,s,d to move and use your mouse to look around…..! Well done! Now….”

    • qrter says:

      Oh dear.. is a tutorial seen as “handholding for utter stupids” now, too?

      • HopeHubris says:

        It depends on how it is done. Compulsory, unskipable, “here’s how to walk and look around” tutorials are terrible. Any optional tutorial is fine, as well as some well done mandatory ones

  2. LionsPhil says:

    So, it’s superficially obtuse, like Vangers, then?

    (Apologies for any Vangers relapses that may have triggered.)

  3. jrodman says:

    The site states:

    “[encrypted] is a short-form abstract roguelike. Unlike most roguelikes, however, in [encrypted] all the game’s text is disguised via a complex system of encryption.

    The game can (and indeed should) be played without cracking the encryption, but for those who are able to crack the code, the game provides hooks to add in custom decryption routines.”

    I don’t get it. We’re supposed to play with gibberish on the screen?
    I’m all for abstract symbol communication, but that we should play with a large portion of the screen covered with meaningless garble is a pretty odd idea. The implication is this is a reasonable encryption system, and in a reasonable encryption system, the output bears no realationship to the input. Even the length of the original message text should be obscured. Is the gibberish intended as decoration?

    • FuriKuri says:

      That’s not quite true – encryption can be extremely simple and have a very strong & obvious relationship to the original message, e.g. ROT13 is still ‘encryption’ as weak as it may be. I do agree with your overall point though that this seems to be pointless obfuscation; I don’t mind some abstraction but I’m yet to enjoy any game that has me battling endlessly with its UI…

      • jrodman says:

        Yes, but that’s bad encryption, and the implication here is that this isn’t.

      • Nixitur says:

        Good point, but ROT13 is not a “complex” system of encryption, so that doesn’t really apply here. I do believe, however, that length is preserved. After all, the text at 0:39 in the trailer has 22 characters while the end slate has 27. Those two numbers don’t share any factors, so it’s very unlikely to be block-based.
        Most encryptions seen in video games are mono-alphabetic ciphers, but those aren’t really “complex”, either. Then again, anything else might be too complex.
        The symbols in the video certainly don’t seem to be uniformly distributed, so I don’t imagine it’d be too difficult.

  4. OpT1mUs says:

    Interesting concept (?), but I would not pay a $1 for this.

  5. Nevard says:

    I played it at EGX and it was interesting, but I never really figured out what I was supposed to be doing other than killing enemies and stealing their powers.

  6. somnolentsurfer says:

    Picked this up last night after playing it for quite a while at Feral Vector. It looks like a more intimidating Dwarf Fortress, but it plays more like turn based Spelunky. At least once Niall had explained to me what I should be doing.